Speakers announced for VT commencement ceremonies

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Several college commencement ceremonies will feature speakers and awards during Virginia Tech’s graduation weekend. Please refer to the Virginia Tech commencement site for a full list of commencement ceremonies, times, and locations.


Pamplin College of Business

May 12, 3:30 p.m., Cassell Coliseum

Finance alumnus and Virginia Tech Board of Visitors member Wayne Robinson will give the keynote address at the Pamplin College of Business commencement ceremony.

Robinson is president and CEO of Career Path Management & Associates, an academic and career services consulting group he founded in the Greensboro and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, area. He has more than 15 years of experience in training employees in career planning and placement. He was previously a senior client partner and diversity practice leader for Wyndham Mills International and talent acquisition manager for Nucor Corp.

A Greensboro native, Robinson is a former high school and college standout athlete at Greensboro Day School and Virginia Tech and has traveled the nation and the world as a professional basketball player in the NBA and the European Basketball Association.

He is committed to building dynamic networks of student-athletes, coaches, pastors, businessmen, and academicians.

In addition to earning a finance degree from Virginia Tech in 1980, Robinson received a ministerial license and pastoral ordination in 1989 from the Cathedral of His Glory. He serves as the Triad, North Carolina, area director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and as senior pastor of New Millennium Christian Center in Greensboro.

Robinson’s leadership roles on state and university committees include service on the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors since 2014. His honors and awards include Virginia Tech’s 2014 Alumni Distinguished Service Award, 1988 Outstanding Young Alumnus, and numerous athletic and community service recognitions.

Corps of Cadets Commencement and ROTC Commissioning Ceremony

May 12, Burruss Hall Auditorium, 7 p.m.

At 7 p.m. on May 12, 265 cadets will walk across the stage of Burruss Auditorium during the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets and ROTC Graduation and Joint Commissioning Ceremony.

Cadets going on to military careers will take an honorary oath to become military officers in the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force. They will also participate in formal commissioning ceremonies hosted by their individual ROTC units.

The keynote speaker is Maj. Gen. Thomas J. Sharpy, the U.S. Air Force’s vice commander for Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The command is responsible for the unit’s strategic transportation mission from 12 major air installations in the U.S. and nearly 100 locations worldwide.

Sharpy’s son will be among the corps’ graduates. Dylan Sharpy will earn his degree in industrial systems engineering and will commission into the U.S. Air Force.

College of Engineering

May 13, Cassell Coliseum, 8 a.m. and 11 a.m.

Lisa Price, chemical engineering alumna and general manager of business development for GE Energy Connections, will deliver the keynote address at the College of Engineering’s commencement ceremonies.

Price is the recipient of the 2017 College of Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award. The prestigious honor is bestowed annually upon one graduate who has achieved success and exemplifies Ut Prosim (That I May Serve) out of approximately 67,000 living College of Engineering alumni.

With GE for 12 years, Price leads global business development activities, including the power conversion, industrial solutions, and digital energy divisions of GE. In September 2013, Price returned from assignment in Shanghai, China, as general manager of GE’s corporate business development division where she supported inorganic growth initiatives to drive mergers and acquisitions in China.

After earning her master’s in business administration from Tulane University in 1995, Price worked at Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Deutsche Bank, where she focused on mergers and acquisitions in the energy, utility and oil, and gas industries. Previously, Price served in a variety of operating and environmental positions with Freeport-McMoRan Inc.

An avid Hokie, Price serves on the college’s international programs alumni planning board and the Department of Chemical Engineering’s advisory board. She previously served four years on the college’s alumni advisory board.

Price is the director of Hope Imaging, a nonprofit organization.

College of Natural Resources and Environment

May 13, Moss Arts Center – Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, 8:30 a.m.

The College of Natural Resources and Environment traditionally features a faculty member as its commencement speaker. This year, the honor goes to Professor Marcella Kelly in the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation, who received the college’s Certificate of Teaching Excellence award.

Known for her work with big cats and other mammals, Kelly focuses on carnivore population ecology, management, and conservation. Her research has taken her from the jungles of Belize to the towering peaks of Bhutan, where she and her students use noninvasive methods, including camera traps, radio collaring, and scat detector dogs to track elusive species, such as jaguars and tigers.

Kelly believes that incorporating active learning while using practical examples is an effective way to teach students about wildlife research and the scientific process.

She restructured the undergraduate Wildlife Techniques course to include an intensive 10-day field experience in which students conduct mini-research projects and take the scientific process from the preliminary stages to the final product.

She has also developed a graduate course to provide graduate students instruction in emerging analytical methods in the field, as well as a popular study abroad course in Belize.